Your House is on Fire

Posted in Parables on September 7th, 2013

A man left his house to go socialize at the local bar he frequented. Shortly after he left, the man’s next door neighbor noticed that much smoke was coming from the man’s house. He quickly drove to the bar to warn the man that his house was on fire. Not being a fan of this revelation, the man dismissed what his neighbor came to tell him, looked around, and asked his friends at the bar if they thought his house was really on fire. Although his friends did not know one way or the other, each of them helped the man feel better about the news by assuring him that they did not believe his house was on fire.

Magic Friend

Posted in Lyrics, Poetry at Rest on July 23rd, 2011

If the shoe doesn’t fit he still wears it
And pays a high price for what he cannot buy
The key fits the lock, but it doesn’t unlock
Those bonds he seeks to unify

One cut off from many others
Lost in his head where he finds no end
Walking his maze of consciousness alone
As he waits to meet his Magic Friend

Magic Friend
In meeting you I depend
For if you’re lost you’re in good company
Magic Friend
I’m your journey’s end
Because I think you’re a lot like me

But until we meet we’ll never know
As we wander this circuit aimlessly
Filtering through the faces, faceless
Feigning disinterest so cautiously

If I could read your mind, or you, mine
To find from afar our minds were imbued
For a lifetime of commonalities accrued
Then this story would not have to end
With the words, to be continued…

© 2011 J. Marshall

The Pointlessness of Pessimism

Posted in Lyrics, Poetry at Rest on May 11th, 2011

Freeze your mind
and others’ minds too.
Then watch hope melt
and run like glue—
down our dreams
and through
our days—
turning dreams into
Kafkaesque goo,
and day to night.

Now tonight
witness your plight;
the pessimist excels
only at
being right.

The Last Radio Station

Posted in Lyrics, Poetry at Rest on May 11th, 2011

I try to insert my favorite CD
into the rental car stereo
but a plastic barricade
prohibits me. The thump
of plastic against plastic
is readily translated,
Since you got a cheap rental car
You must forgo good music.

Radio my only option, I hop
from spot to spot chasing away
static with my fingertips.
But I discover the static
has more depth
and diversity
and beauty
than the music I seek. So I cling

to the static, clinging
to the notion
that the last radio station
sounds like the last radio station
and the last radio station
before that. Oh, the sweet sound
of static redeems my ride.

People in Their 30’s

Posted in Lyrics, Poetry at Rest on May 11th, 2011

People in their 30’s know the decade
that separates them from their teens
becomes a giant chasm which takes their
attempts to return and swallows them.
Police on the other side enforce the rules
of that one way street which stretches
across one’s history to now.  Yet
there are some who did not follow
their bodies across this road
when it was time.  They stay
to watch reruns of their idealized
youth as they reenact roles
they never played.

Watching the Weatherman Watching the Weather

Posted in Lyrics, Poetry at Rest on May 11th, 2011

Clouded certainty
cast over the air
where small talk
gets big sponsors.
Forecasting impending
degrees of change
while we watch
from within
When the weatherman’s words
of what’s happening
aren’t enough
to persuade us,
he will stand
in the midst
of the eye
of the storm
to show us.
Solicited second opinions
from rain-soaked citizens
solidify this.
Now back to the studio
a warm front softens
the wind of bad news
as we’re reminded
once again—
weather conditions are temporal.
But Acts of God turned
into entertainment
are not.


Posted in Lyrics, Poetry at Rest on May 11th, 2011

It is the length of the average wallet,
about four-and-a-half inches.
A dollar bill placed on top
easily obscures this polyhedron’s width.
Five of its faces are not much to look at
but one of these will glow at times,
with a radiance greater than a cigarette lighter
in a dark room.
That’s when we find ourselves
returning to it, touching it, talking to it—
beckoned by its brilliance and buzz.
Attuned to its sounds like parents
to their children’s cries, and responding
to its calls more than this. We attend
to this four-and-a-half inch machine
again. Yet, its true length lies
in the distance between this phone
and that phone, and the distance
these phones continue to create
between people.

On Borrowed Hype

Posted in Lyrics, Poetry at Rest on May 11th, 2011

Try not to borrow another one’s hype
Let reason resonate in a sound mind
Temper your zeal when the cause is just tripe

Blind faith and hype spawn the get-rich-quick-type
And their children play each other in kind
Try not to borrow another one’s hype

Mindless men murmur a meaningless gripe
From dissonant data in haste enshrined
Temper your zeal when the cause is just tripe

Rages, crazes and cults when the time’s ripe
Drink the Kool Aid® of the latest design
Try not to borrow another one’s hype

Campaign rallies and the psyches they swipe
Politics: party time for the maligned
Temper your zeal when the cause is just tripe

Motivational mantras, seething snipe
Truth takes some mining through these things to find
Try not to borrow another one’s hype
Temper your zeal when the cause is just tripe


Posted in Lyrics, Poetry at Rest on May 11th, 2011

I just swallowed a bowling ball
and it seems so much
like the end of the game,
for I’ve been kicked
off this team.
Yet neither of us knew
the words we said
would descend
toward our bowels
to fill our intestines
with fire.
Words which spawned
viscous enough
to obscure this bond
between friends.
Words far detached
from their referents,
they made arguments
of their own
and distributed
the results
between us.
Perhaps I should feel relieved
as I am now relieved
from my post
of walking on pins
and needless fouls
in these strange shoes
fearful every step
is bound to damage
when words take precedence
and preconceived notions reign.

Yet it doesn’t work that way
for a true friend.
Even the complexity
of the relationship
does not subtract
from its value
or the pain
of fearing
this is the end.
Now I am waiting
in the gutter
watching those things of my friend’s
and others
roll by,
longing to strike
up conversation
once again,
hoping this friendship will be spared.

People Leave When They Cannot Breathe

Posted in Lyrics, Poetry at Rest on May 11th, 2011

And the band is set to play
their next set,
but I’m at the end
of my capacity
for passive entertainment.
A pepper spray pen poised
in my breast pocket beckons me
to rewrite the end of the night.
A weapon disguised as that utensil
which typically bleeds only ink,
not made for scribbling
on another’s lungs.
I fiddle with this canister of fire
beneath a return vent,
and unwittingly spread its heat
throughout the venue
into unsuspecting respiratory systems.

The band stops. Mass exodus ensues.
The patrons and the players
depart the sea
of red pepper air
now too thick to breathe.
Outside I stand among them
like school children
at a fire drill
awaiting further instruction.
Amusing speculations abound
about the air.
Each has a theory for how it got tainted.
But it is I who turned us into dragons.
And while we’re all still breathing fire
I dare not disclose its source.